Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Valentine Viewing (Dis)Pleasure

A few nights ago, we started watching the 2001 smash hit (for the weekend that it came out, at least) "Valentine", starring David Boreanaz from the WB's Angel, Denise Richards &, for a few minutes at least, Katherine Heigl from Roswell. What did I think of it? Let me put it to you this way: If I think that a movie is really, really bad (& not in a "good" bad way) - that should tell you something. I mean, my cinematic tastes are not that different from my culinary tastes (Squeeze cheese or potted meat product, anyone?). I'll give pretty much anything a whirl. We didn't even make it through the second half, even though I didn't have to be up early the next morning & could've stayed up for the whole thing. It didn't make any difference, though. As I found out this morning when I looked up the plot synopsis online, I found out that I'd ID'd the killer long before they even got to that point.

The plot is your generic revenge story. In sixth grade, most of the characters are terribly cruel to one of their less socially gifted classmates, going so far as to pour red punch on him at a dance (Hmm...red punch...school dance...sounds a wee bit familiar) & then strip him to his BVD's & beat him savagely on the dancefloor. Well, about as savagely as a bunch of eleven year olds can manage. One of the spectators is wearing a cherub mask. In fact, he's the only kid wearing a mask. Since the rest of the kids weren't even wearing costumes, it's safe to bet that this wasn't a masquerade ball. Either that or someone forgot to tell the kid that the theme of the party was changed from "Halloween" to "Carrie." Cherub Kid watches the pummeling & as he does, blood runs from the masks nose. Which would mean that his nose would have to have been mashed up hard against the mask in order for the blood to make its way out of the hole. Why he started bleeding, well, you got me.

Flash forward to the present. One of the girls at the dance, Shelley (Katherine Heigl), is on a really bad first date with some schmuck. She ends the date & heads back to the comfort & safety of the autopsy room of the med school that she's attending. She sets to working on Chad (that's the name they gave 'im), a donated cadaver, covering his face with a sheet so she won't see the killer has switched places with the corpse so she won't see his face while she's dissecting him. She hears a sound in the adjoining locker room & goes to investigate. A jumper scene (just one of many scattered throughout the movie) ensues when some guy, whose name I can't remember, startles her. After a brief exchange, he takes his leave of Shelley. As she turns to leave, she finds a Valentine card taped to her locker. In it, there's some disturbing prose about how she's going to die. She shrugs it off & returns to Chadaver (that's the name I'm giving him).

She readies her scalpel to make an incision in Chadaver's (Aren't I clever?) abdomen. As she touches blade to skin, she notices that Chadaver's breathing (Gasp. I did not see that one coming. Nope.). Abracadaver! (I am on a roll here, people!) The "corpse" starts moving & Shelley jumps back (Checks herself! Hey!) near a closet. The closet door has a window in it & who should be peering out but our good friend Chadaver, who comes a'tumblin' out when Shelley opens the door. Shelley, scalpel inhand, beats a hasty retreat from the lab & runs down the stereotypical horror movie long-dimly-lit-hallway-full-of-locked-doors, because, of course, the door to the locker room where she was talking to the other guy, (who, by the way, unless he was running reeeeally fast, couldn't have been too far away) is locked (Gasp. Shock. Surprise.).

Shelley finally finds an unlocked door & makes her way in. This is apparently the only door without a lock on it, because she makes no attempt at securing it. I dunno. If it were me, I think I'd lock the door if possible. This room is full of bodybags with corpses in them. Now, maybe I'm thinking a bit too hard about this (something that cannot be said about the person who wrote the script), but, wouldn't a) the corpses (corpsi?) need to be refrigerated? & b) if this was a refrigeration room, would the door to it be an old, two inch thick wooden door with a big two by two & a half foot frosted glass window in it? I mean, the place would be pretty rank smelling, I would think. Anyway, wisely choosing to not look for another way out (Would they really wheel the bodies down the main hall & store them in a big closet?) & foregoing even looking for a phone, we see our victim damsel in distress panic &...

Cut back to the hallway, where we find the man of the hour, the Cherub Masked Slasher, strolling down the hall, completely clothed. I bring this up because he was naked when he was on the gurney in the lab. Forget the fact that all of the previous events have taken place over the course of maybe, oh, thirty seconds. And that Shelley was running (well, tripping, really) down the hall. Offscreen Teleportation, I guess. Apparently, he teleported directly into his clothes, too. Not bothering to check any of the doors in the hallway, he walks directly to the room that Shelley went into.

He unzips the first bag be comes to & finds a pasty old guy who's already been autopsied. Figuring this to be quite the time consuming endeavor, CMS then starts driving his butcher knife (Cripes, did the writer have The Horror Movie Writer's Primer next to him as he wrote this?) into the body bags.

Three guesses as to where Shelley's hiding.

At this point I was growing tired of the long, drawn out chase scene & started yelling at the guy to just look for the bag with the most noticeable protrusions from the the chest area. Finally, he opens a bag &, lo! & behold, heeeeere's Shelley, who apparently Offscreen Teleported into the bodybag, because there was obviously not enough time for her to get the body out of the bag, crawl in & zip herself up before Chuckles shuffled his way into the room. One scream, a slit to the throat & exit one med student.

The rest of the movie pretty much follows the same path: Girl gets disturbing Valentine, girl gets aced, next! Two of the girls that share an apartment receive a card & a box of chocolates. It's not addressed to either of them, so one of them opens the card, which reads something to the effect of "You are what you eat" & then proceeds to bite into one of the chocolates, which is infested with maggots. Yum. Y'know, I don't care what it is - chocolate, pizza, a 4x4 from In-N-Out - if it's just left on my doorstep by some anonymous person, I'm not going to eat it. It's just a dumb thing to do. But, I'm doubting that anything remotely resembling intelligence had anything to do with this movie, so, whaddya gonna do?

In another scene that had me saying "Wha...?", one of the girls is shot by CMS with an arrow. From across a room. With his mask on. Dead on in the gut. And, to top it off, he shoots her again, near the same spot, while she's doubled over! William Tell's got nothin' on this guy. One more shot sends her reeling over a conveniently placed handrail, tumbling about three floors into a dumpster.

Yeah. It's about as dumb as it sounds.

By this time, I'd already figured out who the killer was, played out the rest of the movie in my head & just wanted to go to sleep. A little research the next morning confirmed my suspicion. The revelation of who the masked man was was supposed to be some kind of big "twist" ending, as it's not who the writer wanted you to think it was (Duh!). The only thing twisting was me, trying to get comfortable under the blankets as I went to sleep. The writer threw out more red herrings than a dolphin trainer at Sea World, in a failed attempt to throw off the viewers. It was blatantly...nay...pathetically obvious who the killer was. By the time I'd figured it out, I had lost interest (Well, what little interest I had left after Ms. Heigel's departure.).

The good parts of the movie? Lessee...there were the first ten minutes or so featuring Katherine Heigl & a tanktop. Once she kicked the oxygen habit (Can someone please explain to me why you'd stop to climb into a bodybag instead of running for the door - or using a phone? Oh, right - IITS), the movie carreened downhill. I haven't seen such a paint-by-numbers horror movie since Halloween IV. OK, I probably have, but that's the first one that came to mind. I could swear that I saw little name badges on the actors that said "Hi! My Name Is Vicitim # __."

Bottom line, I've coughed up scarier stuff. "Valentine" does not even rank "craptacular" status. It was just plain crappy.

Rating (One to Five Eyeballs): Are you kidding? This thing made me want to gouge my eyeballs out!